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A California lawmaker recently proposed a bill that would put the decision to dole out a vaccine exemption in the hands of a state public health official – a move that has anti-vaccine supporters up in arms in a state that already has some of the toughest immunization laws in the country.

California state Sen. Richard Pan introduced late last month Senate Bill 276, which if approved would take the decision to grant vaccine exemptions out of the hands of doctors and put it under control of state health officials. Pan, who before turning to politics was a pediatrician, brought forth the legislation in response to reports that some doctors in the state are abusing their power and selling medical exemptions to parents.

“Medical exemptions have more than tripled since the passage of SB 277. Some schools are reporting that more than 20 percent of their students have a medical exemption,” Pan said in a statement. “It is clear that a small number of physicians are monetizing their exemption-granting authority and profiting from the sale of medical exemptions.”

Pan’s legislation also comes as the United States has seen a rise in the number of measles cases nationwide, with California being one of the hardest hit areas for the contagious, but preventable disease.

NYC MEASLES OUTBREAK: FIRST VACCINATION FINES, 4 MORE SCHOOLS SHUT DOWN

Health officials at the University of California, Davis Medical Center last month warned around 200 people about a potential exposure to the measles virus in its emergency room, and there are reports that travelers with measles have recently passed through Los Angeles International Airport – one of the nation’s busiest travel hubs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced that measles outbreaks have continued to spike this year – putting 2019 on track to break a record for number of cases since it was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

While Pan argues that the new measure would thwart fraud attempts by families and doctors, and keep communities in California safe from preventable diseases, anti-vaccine and pro-informed consent advocates have labeled the move “modern tyranny” and a move by California lawmakers to reach a 100 percent vaccination rate in the state.

A group of doctors, alternative healthcare practitioners and members of parental rights groups traveled on Wednesday to Sacramento to voice their anger and opposition to the bill, which was scheduled to be discussed in the Senate.

LAX TRAVELERS WARNED ABOUT POSSIBLE MEASLES EXPOSURE AGAIN 

“A law that prevents a doctor from using his professional judgement is immoral and dangerous,” Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, told Fox News. “[Supporters of SB 276] are more concerned about achieving a 100 percent vaccination rate in California than they are about these children who are vulnerable of being injured or dying from a vaccine.”

Fisher did not attend the rally in Sacramento.

There have been cases in the past of children getting sick, and even dying, from being vaccinated, but according to public health records these cases are rare and for the vast majority of those immunized the only issues that arise – if any – are mild symptoms similar to the disease the vaccine is trying to prevent.

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The CDC reported that a serious allergic reaction and infection related to a vaccine occurs in one out of every million doses administered.

SB 276 is not the first piece of legislation in California to try to bring up the state’s vaccination rate.

In 2015, the state passed SB 277 – another piece on legislation led by Pan – that did away with the personal belief exemption from a list of approved reasons not to immunize a child. It is now mandatory for a child to be vaccinated to attend school in the state and parents cannot rely on the argument of religious or philosophical convictions to not inoculate their children.

Source: Fox News Politics

It’s never too early to try to avoid the next government shutdown. Or the next debt ceiling crisis. Especially when:

  • The federal government recently faced three shutdowns in a little more than 15 months (albeit one for just a few hours).
  • President Trump threatened to veto spending measures twice after everyone thought they had a deal.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., advanced a measure through the Senate to fund the government around Christmas before Trump and House Republicans torched it.
  • The battle over immigration policy and construction of a border wall remains an epic cloud menacing the American political landscape with 19 months to go before the next presidential election.

So it should surprise no one that McConnell announced earlier this month that he had discussed the possibility of a broad bipartisan, bicameral, two-year, spending arrangement with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“I’m hoping this will be the beginning of a bipartisan agreement, which will be necessary in order to have an orderly appropriations process, not only this year but next year as well,” McConnell said at the time.

ACTING DHS CHIEF PREDICTS PROGRESS BUILDING SOUTHERN BORDER WALL DESPITE CONGRESSIONAL INACTION

McConnell knows the debate over the border lingers, with Trump and many congressional Republicans pushing for additional wall funding. He’s not just worried about the prospect of another shutdown Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year and when the current round of funding expires, but a second shutdown on Oct. 1, 2020, right before the presidential election.

The chances of another shutdown are high, considering that Trump went around Congress to declare a national emergency in order to marshal money for the border wall. The courts will determine whether that maneuver was constitutional, but the president’s action alone bolstered the chances of another shutdown. The possibility increased even further after Congress failed to override Trump’s veto of a measure to terminate the national emergency.

McConnell felt burned by the president after he forged ahead with a government spending plan in December, only to have Trump tell then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., he wouldn’t sign the package. So after congressional leaders forged a mid-February deal to run the government through this fall, McConnell sped to the floor to publicly announce Trump’s intention to sign the measure. McConnell’s move locked in the president, lest he try to renege. McConnell understands Trump’s fickle and volatile approach to governing. The president dumped McConnell and Ryan under the bus during a 2017 Oval Office meeting in favor of a spending gambit pushed by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Wiser for that experience, McConnell knows the best bet is to secure broad, long-term buy-in from the White House and Congress on a topline spending measure to avoid potential shutdowns – pre-empting Trump’s incessant oscillations.

Let’s examine exactly what’s at stake. You may hear these negotiations referred to rhetorically as a “caps deal.” This refers to an effort to establish total spending caps for discretionary spending (read: anything but entitlements) for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The “caps” refer to a set of mandatory spending restrictions (known as sequestration) which Congress imposed as part of the debt ceiling agreement in 2011. The goal is to make everyone happy as long as they can reach a topline accord for all spending by eliminating the caps. The advantage for Trump and many Republicans? Military spending and some additional money for a border wall. The advantage for Democrats? More spending on everything else.

Debts and deficits? Forget about it.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS POSTPONE BUDGET MEASURE VOTE AMID PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE

Sure, some fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Democrats may balk, as will fiscal conservatives like Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah. But the key here is the right mixture of Democrats and Republicans. In divided government, leaders need to secure buy-in from both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But remember, these are discussions focused on overall spending numbers, not specific appropriations. A dispute over the latter is what led to the monstrous government shutdown in December and January.

House Democrats drew criticism two weeks ago when they yanked their budget blueprint off the floor because they lacked the votes to adopt it as divergent voices split the caucus. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told Fox that if the budget (which only sets broad spending guidelines and is not binding) “had been critical … I think Nancy (Pelosi) and I could have gotten it passed.”

Hoyer pointed out that the discussions with the administration and McConnell are more “substantive.” That’s true. The budget House Democrats aimed to approve was simply a wish list, much like President Trump’s budget in the winter. So, if the sides can get an agreement on spending caps, that would, in theory, make it easier to focus on the hard part, which is appropriations.

Here’s the issue with the sequestration caps: Sequestration always hits the military hardest because Congress spends the most on the Pentagon. Sequestration restricts the Pentagon to $576 billion for fiscal year 2020 and could impose a cut of $71 billion to defense next year and $55 billion for non-defense programs.

TRUMP, GOP PLAN TO RESCIND BUDGET SPENDING HAS PRECEDENT BUT FACES ROCKY PATH IN CONGRESS

Trump and defense hawks want to spend more on the military. So, if they get a “caps deal,” and cancel sequestration, they can spend a lot more. Of course, the deal must be made with congressional Democrats who also want to eliminate sequestration caps on non-defense spending.

Even though the House failed to adopt a budget this week, Democrats did set an overall discretionary spending figure (encompassing all 12 appropriations bills) of $1.295 trillion for fiscal year 2020. This excludes non-discretionary spending which includes entitlement spending.

But here are the politics: Both sides believe if they can get the president on board with the defense hikes, he could sign off on other Democratic priorities. And if both houses of Congress are behind the plan, Trump could agree and avoid the shutdowns.

The gambit would establish new spending caps for the remainder of the president’s term, drastically reducing the chances of shutdowns while baking in a debt limit increase. They could also forge a deal on a supplemental spending bill to cover a host of natural disasters, from Puerto Rico to flooding in the Midwest. One GOP plan to address natural disasters is stalled in the Senate.

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“If we can come to the agreement with the Senate, that puts the onus on the White House,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky. “There will be no way [Trump] can explain it away. If he wants that [responsibility of a shutdown], it’s on his shoulders.”

Pelosi and Schumer are slated to visit the White House Tuesday to discuss a possible infrastructure plan with Trump. The last time Pelosi and Schumer huddled with the president in the Oval Office, sparks flew as the leaders verbally sparred with one another on live TV. The conclave produced one of the most memorable episodes of the Trump presidency. This tableau could prompt similar combat, even though the subject matter is infrastructure. The border wall dispute and immigration policy will remain a flashpoint as long as this president is in office and won’t be settled by any caps agreement.

That’s why many want to get started on a spending arrangement now. They know the next round of arguments over the wall could be more intense than the last.

Source: Fox News Politics

The FBI calls it “one of the most difficult and complex issues facing our nation’s criminal justice system.”

Growing stockpiles of untested sexual assault evidence kits have been plaguing U.S. law enforcement for decades, and the FBI and the National Institute of Justice just wrapped up a massive, years-long partnership to hopefully make this problem a thing of the past.

Five years ago, the two government agencies teamed up with local law enforcement to tackle the issue, and chip away at the massive backlogs of untested Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) that have been creating headaches for crime-solvers nationwide.

After a reported sexual assault, evidence for a SAK is collected and stored. This can sometimes consist of a single piece of evidence, or upwards of a dozen, and getting actual results is nothing like what you see on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

“It’s not about testing kits, it’s about solving cases.”

— Kim Murga, Director, Las Vegas Metro Police Crime Lab

The costs, and the painstaking process of testing them has contributed to thousands of SAKs sitting on evidence shelves across the country without ever being tested. Some of them can date as far back as nearly half a century.

In 2014, the director of the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice, Gerry LaPorte, decided it was time to start trying to get ahead of the decades-long dilemma.

LaPorte set out to not only try and improve methods for testing SAKs, in the hopes of increasing efficiency in local laboratories, but to actually test some of these kits for local agencies, as well.

Finding a partner in this effort, LaPorte said, was a different story. Thankfully, the FBI Laboratory division said it was willing to chip in “within about 30 seconds.”

A memorial stone outside of the FBI Laboratory division building at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA. (Fox News/Alex Diaz)

A memorial stone outside of the FBI Laboratory division building at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA. (Fox News/Alex Diaz)

Under the NIJ-FBI Sexual Assault Kit Partnership, local law enforcement agencies could send SAKs to be tested free of charge. In addition to the free testing, the NIJ and FBI would use those kits, and the hours spent testing them, to create new best practices that local laboratories could use to streamline their own testing.

The volume of the backlog itself wasn’t the only issue, although the number of untested kits did number in the tens of thousands. “These are Sexual Assault Kits that go back sometimes into the 1970’s,” LaPorte told Fox.

Despite the uphill battle involved in testing thousands of kits, while also trying to streamline the testing process itself, the efforts seem to have paid off.

The FBI laboratory alone tested some 3,600 kits and found they had matches for more than 800 suspects whose DNA profiles were already in the national database known as CODIS. That was in addition to the nearly 2,000 new entries they put into the system.

Beyond the FBI lab’s efforts, the partnership itself produced even more staggering numbers. Thanks to grants provided to the partnership by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), more than 60,000 kits were inventoried, nearly 40,000 more were tested to completion, and a total of nearly 14,000 new individuals were entered into CODIS.

For the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. crime lab, one of the first agencies to team up with the FBI/NIJ, the partnership was the catalyst that has helped eliminate a decades-old backlog in just five years.

After starting off with an identified backlog that was just shy of 10,000 kits, “we have a little over 300 remaining, but all of the testing is in progress and should be completed in the next couple of months,” said Kim Murga, the LVMPD director of laboratory services.

TESTING OF 100K BACKLOGGED RAPE KITS LEADS TO 1,000 ARRESTS

Over the course of testing the backlogged kits in her laboratory, Murga and her team matched DNA to suspects in 17 different states. One of the matches they turned up resulted in the arrest of a former city police officer, who has now been charged as a suspect in a cold case murder dating back to the ’90s.

Murga said she didn’t realize how much help was available until she started looking for it, and she hopes to serve as an example for law enforcement agencies who might be facing similar hurdles, and who still haven’t reached out for assistance.

State-level initiatives are starting to spring up across the country, and grants are still being awarded by groups like the BJA. With all of that in mind, Murga said she hopes that the progress made by her team, as well as the FBI/NIJ partnership at large, inspires more agencies to reach out for help and get a handle on this important issue.

“It’s not about testing kits,” Murga said, “it’s about solving cases, and that’s what the focus has to be on.”

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The push to solve more sexual assault cases comes as the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported more and more victims are starting to report their crimes to police. And as LaPorte makes clear, the entire effort has always been about helping victims.

“Any little thing we can do to help the victim get justice,” LaPorte said, “and then prevent – that’s the key part too, to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Source: Fox News National

Pharmaceutical industry executives were hit Tuesday with criminal charges stemming from the opioid crisis.

Laurence Doud III, the 75-year-old retired CEO of the Rochester Drug Co-Operative, surrendered to authorities in New York City and is awaiting arraignment on two counts of conspiracy related to drug trafficking. His lawyer said he would fight the charges.

Doud, who retired in 2017, alleged in a lawsuit last year that Rochester Drug Co-Operative tried using him as a scapegoat for its legal and regulatory troubles.

If convicted, Doud faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Rochester Drug Co-Operative and William Pietruszewski, the company’s former chief compliance officer, were also charged.

BODY CAM FOOTAGE SHOWS OFFICERS ATTEMPTING TO SAVE JUSTINE DAMOND AFTER SHE WAS SHOT BY OFFICER

Doud’s criminal charges added a new twist to efforts to hold companies and people responsible for the opioid crisis. Other companies and executives have faced lawsuits from a growing list of state and local governments looking to hold them accountable for an epidemic that led to more than 70,000 deaths in 2017.

“This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country,” Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told NBC News. “Our office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.”

An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleged Dowd operated in the fringes of the drug business, obliterating red flags to turn his small New York firm into a supplier of last resort for independent pharmacies whose dubious practices got them cut off by other distributors.

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Doud encouraged his sales force to sign up new customers with no questions asked, picking up competitors’ rejects as he boasted that his company was “the knight in shining armor” for independent pharmacies, the indictment said.

When Rochester’s largest customer went from buying 70,000 units of oxycodone per month in October 2012 to more than 200,000 units per month a year later, Doud had its back — overruling his own compliance officers and ordering that the pills keep flowing because it was a “big account,” the indictment said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced Wednesday that voters can expect to see a female on the ticket if he wins his party’s nomination.

Speaking at the She The People Presidential Forum in Houston, the presidential hopeful was asked if he would pledge to having a woman running mate – something he has shied away from commiting to in the past.

“I will have a woman running mate,” Booker said. “To me it’s really clear that we do that.”

Booker previously suggested that “if I have it my way,” he would pick a woman to run alongside him.

KAMALA HARRIS AND CORY BOOKER MISSED MOST VOTES OF ALL DEM SENATORS RUNNING IN 2020

“I am very confident that this election, we will make history, because no matter what, I’m looking you in the eye and saying this, there will be a woman on the ticket. I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or the president’s position,” Booker said last month at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

Booker’s announcement could give him a more competitive edge in the crowded field of Democratic contenders, which includes a number of female candidates.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., also recently announced that he would be choosing a female running mate, saying he thinks the next president should run with someone who can speak to a different “experience” then he can as a “white man.”’

“I’ve pledged that I would ask a woman to serve as Vice President,” he said Tuesday. “ I would put forward a diverse candidate and I would put forward policies that would make sure that inherent bias that exists or discrimination that exists in communities would be eliminated.”

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Among the female Democratic presidential candidates are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Booker’s appearance Wednesday marked the first-ever presidential candidate forum focused on women of color. The other candidates to appear included Harris, Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Dr. Marc Siegel, a medical school professor at New York University, Wednesday praised the progress made against the opioid epidemic since President Donald Trump declared the issue a national public health emergency in 2017.

“Prescribing of opioids … is down 25 percent over a year period,” Siegel said during an appearance on “Outnumbered Overtime.” He also is a Fox News contributor. “That’s huge because that’s the engine in a way that’s driving this.”

He also touted the 3.5 percent decrease in deaths due to opioids. “That’s huge,” Siegel told host Melissa Francis, “because it’s the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.”

Siegel’s comments came just before the president and First Lady Melania Trump spoke at a drug abuse summit in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday.

MASSACHUSETTS STATE PRISONS OFFER MEDICATION TO COMBAT INMATES’ OPIOID ADDICTION

Siegel argued that beyond prescription rates, a culture of loneliness and separation fueled the opioid epidemic. “It’s a culture of loneliness, of separation, of a community health problem … unemployment.”

Just a week before Siegel’s comments, the administration announced charges against 60 individuals for allegedly participating in illegal distribution and prescribing of opioids and other narcotics.

The Health and Human Services Department also said it excluded 2,000 indiviudals from federal health programs due to their involvement with opioid diversion and abuse.

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At the event on Wednesday, the president touted his administration’s progress on the issue. “My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to empower you, to support you and to fight right by your side,” he also said.

“We will not solve this epidemic overnight but we will stop. … We will never stop until our job is done.”

Source: Fox News National

California authorities on Wednesday released the name of the suspected driver accused of plowing a vehicle into eight people a day earlier.

Isaiah Joel Peoples, of Sunnyvale, Calif., was identified as the suspect by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) on Twitter.

Peoples was allegedly behind the wheel of a black 2010 Toyota Corolla that rammed into the group and he is suspected of possibly doing so “intentionally,” officials said following the incident.

DRIVER PLOWS INTO GROUP OF PEOPLE IN CALIFORNIA, INJURING 8 BEFORE SMASHING INTO TREE, POLICE SAY

It occurred around 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday as the driver was heading west on El Camino Real towards the city of Mountain View, DPS said. After striking the group, the car continued for a few more yards before slamming into a tree near a shopping center.

Following this, Peoples was taken into custody.

“We don’t know the motive behind this,” Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Jim Choi told Fox 2. “The driver might have intentionally ran into the group of people at the sidewalk. There was no attempt to break or steer away.”

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The individuals struck by the vehicle were taken to the hospital, though their conditions were not made available.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

Former interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile, a Fox News contributor, said she thinks former Vice President Joe Biden  “is a proven leader,” and has what it takes to “go the distance” in the 2020 presidential race.

Brazile made her comments on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday, the day before Biden is expected to declare his candidacy for president.

The announcement would end months of speculation as the 76-year-old Biden mulled making what would be a third White House bid. Despite the recent #MeToo controversy complicating his would-be campaign, the former vice president has remained at the top of most public opinion polls.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN LAUNCH PUSHED TO THURSDAY

Biden’s potential political campaign hit a bump recently after several women complained publicly about the prospective 2020 Democratic candidate, accusing him of touching them inappropriately at events.

“With 20 candidates I’m not sure that it’s time to pick number one. But he is number one in the polls. That’s because, of course, he was vice president for eight years. He’s been a public servant. He is a proven leader,” said Brazile.

She added, “The race to the White House is about delegates and the question is, will he have enough, what I like to say, enough miles to go the distance? I do believe he will go the distance and that’s because voters know him, they appreciate his leadership. But what’s his vision? That’s what this generation of Democrats will be asking him. Where do you want to take us?”

‘THE VIEW’ CO-HOST JOY BEHAR BLASTS TRUMP OVER MUELLER REPORT OMISSION: ‘THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN’

Brazile also weighed in on congressional Democrats pushing to keep investigating President Trump despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapping up his Russia investigation with no new indictments.

When asked if it is a good strategy for Democrats to continue to push, Brazile answered, “Absolutely,” adding, “No one is above the law. In fact, Democrats will be running on protecting our democracy.”

She added, “Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. You have Democrats out there talking about everything from jobs and the economy and infrastructure, they’re running for president, they’re running to replace Donald Trump in 2020. But you have Capitol Hill Democrats. That’s part of their responsibility in our system of government. So yes, we could do both.”

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“No one is above the law. I think the president should comply with the request from the United States House of Representatives,” said Brazile.

She added, “This is important for the health of our democracy and the future of the United States of America. This is not partisan.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, apparently reneged on his admissions for some of his alleged crimes, indicating that he only pleaded guilty to avoid dragging his wife through a prolonged legal battle.

The revelations came from a recorded March 25 phone call he had with actor and Cohen’s close friend Tom Arnold, the audio of which The Wall Street Journal obtained and published Wednesday. Although Cohen reportedly stood by his plea on campaign finance violations, which implicated the president over his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, he appeared to reverse admissions related to tax evasion and a charge related to a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

“There is no tax evasion,” Cohen said. “And the HELOC? I have an 18 percent loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a HELOC issue?” Cohen portrayed himself as a victim — noting how he lost his insurance, business, and law license — and lamented the lack of support he received after coming forward to law enforcement.

“I shouldn’t be alone anymore. I mean, after over a hundred hours of testimony, right, including seven-and-a-half hours of being beaten up on national television,” he said.

MICHAEL COHEN ASKS HOUSE DEMOCRATS TO HELP KEEP HIM OUT OF PRISON

He also described his dedication to his wife, Laura Shusterman, and his intent to help her avoid legal trouble. “I love this woman. I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap,” he said before noting he wasn’t expecting the three-year sentence he received.

Cohen’s name made its way back into the news in April when Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation. Mueller’s report made 14 criminal referrals, which included Cohen, who admitted to paying Daniels hush money just before the 2016 presidential election.

While Trump has denied wrongdoing related to that payment and another to Karen McDougal, Cohen stood by his guilty plea. “They had me on campaign finance,” he said in the call with Arnold.

During his call, Cohen appeared to describe the conflict he faced in turning on the president, whom he had served for a decade. “I needed to get the truth out there, and (it’s) very hard when you spend 10 years taking care of somebody and their family,” Cohen told Arnold.

MICHAEL COHEN LAWYER ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY TESTIMONY ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL PARDON, AMID CRITICISM

“And look, I always knew, you know, who he was and what he was and so on, but it didn’t really matter because it’s — he’s a small microcosm of New York real estate. It’s very different when you start looking to seeing what’s happening now in the country,” he said.

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s new attorney, labeled Cohen’s walkback “poetic justice.”

“Since Cohen began composing for the Angry Democrats he has demonstrably lied under oath in his guilty plea and his testimony to Elijah ‘I’ll throw the book at you’ Cummings,” Giuliani said in another tweet. “Report ignores all of this and provides no facts to evaluate Cohen’s credibility. One of many deceptions,” he said in an apparent dig at the Journal.

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Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, told Fox News: “Nothing said by Mr. Cohen to Tom Arnold contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December. I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as ‘credible’ addressing the ‘core’ issues involved in his investigation.”

The White House did not respond for a request for comment.

Fox News’ Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump on Wednesday touted his administration’s success in combating the opioid epidemic in the United States, while acknowledging that there is still more work to do.

Speaking at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, the president’s remarks noted the steps his administration has taken to battle the epidemic, but also veered into his frequent critique of drugs coming over the U.S.’s southern border into the country.

“We will not solve this epidemic overnight,” Trump said to an audience of elected leaders and health and law enforcement officials gathered in the Georgia capital. “But we will never stop until the job is done.”

Trump added: “We will succeed and we’re making tremendous progress.”

NEW YORK SUES MAKERS OF OXYCONTIN DAYS AFTER COMPANY AGREES TO $270M SETTLEMENT

The president has declared opioids a national health emergency, while First Lady Melania Trump, who also spoke at the conference, focuses on the issue in her national “Be Best” child welfare campaign.

“I’m proud of this administration’s historic progress,” the first lady said before introducing her husband.

Opioid abuse claimed a record nearly 48,000 American lives in 2017. An estimated 2 million people are addicted to the drugs, which include both legal prescription pain medications and illegal drugs like heroin.

There have been signs of progress.The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. fell substantially in 2017. Still, it’s unclear whether the opioid problem is on the decline.

Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers, said at a White House gaggle Wednesday that Twitter and Google have helped the administration combat the opioid and drug crisis. So far, the administration has helped collect 3.7 million pounds of unused and expired medications — enough to fill seven Air Force One planes, she said.

The next “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” is Saturday.

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Conway said she met Tuesday with drug enforcement and officials from Google, which is helping the administration by displaying links to about 5,500 locations where people can drop off unused and expired pills.

Trump also hit Mexico for allowing heroin and other opioids to come into the country, and promised that his much-touted border wall will help stem the flow of drugs into the U.S.

“Heroin alone kills 300 Americans, 90 percent of which enter the Southern Border,” Trump said.

While it’s true that the vast majority of heroin in the U.S. comes from Mexico, virtually all of it makes its way into the country through legal ports of entry and not by traffickers sneaking it across the border unnoticed.

“A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between Ports of Entry (POEs),” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report.

There is also contention over Trump’s claims of progress in combating the opioid epidemic.

Keith Humphreys, a drug policy adviser in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations who now is at Stanford University, said some states are making progress in combating opioids abuse, but not because of Trump’s actions. Humphreys cited Rhode Island and Vermont as examples. He also said some states have regressed.

Humphreys said the president’s declaration of opioids addiction as a public health emergency in 2017 failed to translate into significant concrete action. Members of Congress, he said, “figured out they were going to have to do it themselves and they did.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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